A New Canvas and a Canvas Changed

Dance season has held my focus for the past four months, so I have not had much time to catch up on a few sessions from over the winter. We are winding down now, one more to go and then a little break until nationals. When I can get a few dance sessions in the studio up to date, I will tell you all about it, but right now we are going to take a little peek into a hard rocking blues man gone solo.

I first met Brian while he was the front man for a four piece hard rocking blues act. These guys were a throwback and I very quickly became a fan of what they were putting out. But as it is with many young bands, things change and people go different ways. Brian and I got together to create a body of work that he could use for promotional material as he ventured out into the world of a being solo musician.

I had ordered a canvas backdrop from Savage just for this session. Savage is known for its amazing selection of paper and muslin drops and I had never even considered them for canvas. When I saw the color was exactly what I wanted and the fact that it was much, much less expensive than the well known canvas companies I figured I would take the plunge and pick one up. Oh my goodness, the thing is an incredibly gorgeous backdrop. I am now hooked on canvas.

Brian’s music has taken a little turn into a mostly acoustic avenue these days, still incredibly soulful, only in a more relaxing atmosphere. He has not put down the electric by any means, and it is going to be great watching and listening where he goes from here.

Since we had the time, of course had to get this look in. It goes perfect with the new backdrop and meshes well with his current direction.

You can check out Brian’s latest release, Learning Curves, and his social channels over at his site. Hope you dig it as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by, talk to you soon

Phil

All About the Folk

Music that is. I am always amazed how different genres of song influence the soul. By nature I am a progressive hard rocker, raised on Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Yes and Genesis with a ton of Rush thrown in. These days it Sevendust, Shinedown and Godsmack laying a base for me along with a bunch of other rockers getting playtime. Need to put a quick shoutout in for Badflower, who have been on the top of my playlist for the past two months.

And then, there is the other side. It is like a split personality carving out a large part of my musical wanderings. The mellower but just as energetic persona influenced by Folk music. My favorite songs over the past few years have been from The Lone Bellow and John Mayer. Perhaps it is because I have the blood of a southerner but was raised in the Northeast. Does it matter? Nope.

Many of my local favorites are based on the softer, more passionate side of my interests. I was very excited when Joseph Miller answered the call and expressed interest for a sitting. It was just over three years ago when I first saw Joe strum his acoustic at a show. And at the time I could not resist sniping this candid of him next to the bill, checking out the history of the Wonder Bar while he was waiting to go on stage.

We hooked up over the holidays to create some material for him to use in for some upcoming promos. After a little catching up we got right to work. I did not even let him take his coat off, it fit the color scheme nicely.

Running the patterns, I am always one for a more dramatic look

The guitar came out of course and we had a little fun with that, coming away with a few different looks. I will always leave space on one side or the other for typeset with images. Need to provide content that is easy and suitable for use.

One of my favorites, and I think one of Joe’s as well. This one is for the walls!

You can check out Joe along with his work and whereabouts right here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

Kicking off a new body of work

I started a personal project back in December with a goal of developing a body of work geared towards promotional material for the musicians I cover. And, while I am not out there as much as I want to be I still pay attention to what goes on and who is where, hoping that this little thing called life slows down for me again soon so I can get back to the scene I love so much.

I had a few bites from the posting I put out, fell a couple short of the goal, but spring weather approaches and with it the attempts to finish out my initial shot list. Most of the musicians I have shot so far I have followed or covered for a few years so it was really cool getting them into a controlled environment for a change. The first one up was soft spoken, dreamy, singer songwriter Mackenzie Brown.

I have wanted to get Mackenzie into the studio for a while now for more than just promo material, she has a great look and was a perfect subject for my foray into colored gels. And while our time was short, towards the end of our session I did find a good combination of lights and gels that work great together. Of course I had to start out without the gels just so we could have some “normal” material to work with. I also messed around with some color grading, making use of some new Lightroom presets and LUTS in Photoshop.


This next image I honestly have no recollection on the base configuration and what treatment was done to it in post. But it is totally different from the rest of our series and is one I am still tweaking away at to this day. I might have just jacked up the power on the background light and perhaps a blue gel was added as well.

As we got in the groove (…I stopped screwing around…) we began to create some stunning material and things really began to click. I love this classic look and the hint of a blue gel adds nice contrast to her hair and shoulder.

One of my favorite looks from our session. There is so much to be said about someone who can pull off an expression like this. Mackenzie has perfected the no smile, retain a personality look which is incredibly hard to do. Of course one of the reasons I wanted to get her in to begin with .

I could not resist making a crop of it. I also left the background alone.

More gel play as the weather turns. I have a good combination that I can work with and now it is all about experimenting with the set up and getting comfortable with the boundries. You can check out Mackenzie’s music here, and more to come from the artists and groups that have visited.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

Dance Season is Upon Us

Seems appropriate that I get off my duff and continue where I left off at the end of last summer when I was trying out some new lighting gear. A blurry few months have shot by and it is a new year now, with dance season bearing down upon us. For the next five months many of my weekends will be spent glued to the viewfinder with hundreds of competition dancers leaping across the plane of my lens. I can only hope the light is good during these events as we are subject to the confines of the stage we are visiting. Ain’t no flash here.

The second go round I had with the Flashpoint Xplor Pro 600 back in the fall was just as awesome as the first. Mary Cate was the subject for this particular evening, and even though we did not get much color in the sky, the fact finding mission was accomplished and we captured some great material in the process.

Mary Cate is a dancer of course, long and lean with some great lines. To refresh, I was checking out the high speed sync capabilities so my shutter speeds were upwards of 4000 with the tele lens at 2.8, and 2000 with the wide at 4.0. Since this time I have become a big fan of this series of light, and at half price or better from the big boys, very well worth it.

I think the biggest challenge when shooting during a setting sun is the large change that happens in natural light in a very quick time span. The constant evaluation of meter readings can be a pain but once you get a base, should not be that bad. Grabbed this on while the sun was still reasonable, but no clouds to play with so a little flare:

Then after a bit it came time for another base exposure

And then the real fun began:

The final series of the night and a look that seems to have become very popular in the dance world. Or maybe it has always been and I just have not seen it much. Either Way…

It was great having some one on one time with the dancers, always a pleasure getting them in this environment. Spring should be right around the corner, though we really have not had much of a winter yet, so as soon as it warms up I will get them back out there. In the meantime to the stage we go!

Thanks for stopping by, Talk to you soon!

Phil

My First Go Round with High Speed Sync

Being someone who likes action oriented photos as much as I like the static ones, I have always wanted to get into high-speed sync. The Canon 430 used on camera does a decent job, if you are close, but I have always wanted something with a bit more juice to it. Not having the budget to purchase a desired Profoto or Broncolor unit, I went all in on the Flashpoint Xplor 600 Pro, half the cost of the others.

There is quite a bit for me to still learn about it, but as soon as I got it I secured my test subjects and went into HSS mode. I will go over more of the features in a future offering, this one was all about fast shutter speeds.

The majority of my outside sessions involve a setting sun, I love the combo of a lit subject and a colorful, scenic background so these images are some of what went down on the first day of tests. This image is one of the last of the evening, and while you do not necessarily need to shoot HSS to achieve it, I did it anyway. f4.5 at 1/1250.

Allie used to be one of my dance girls so I have known her for a number of years, but never had the opportunity to get in a session with her. Allie does not dance competitively anymore, but she does cheer so she still has those pliable abilities and of course we got them out.

f4.5 1/1250

Solid result. Crisp, mid-air edges. I think I was still using a soft box here so we got some pretty good flash coverage area. Funny thing, these images are six weeks old and it is the first time I am noticing that yellow sign.

Since we seem to be going in reverse order here, this next image was shot at f4, 1/2500th of a second. It did not make the final selections – I am all about the face – but I am impressed with the stopping power. The light provided just enough detail in the image and 1/2500th caught Allie with hands just off the ground and the sand in the air.

I originally thought this next image could be obtained just using a reflector. After studying it, I do not think it would be possible. F3.2, 1/4000th of a second. Soft box just above head and pointing down.

One of the first images of the evening while we were getting dialed in with light and position. Another at 3.2 4000.

I was very happy with my first foray into high speed sync and the Flashpoint xplor600 pro. Be back soon with our next adventure with the new gear.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

 

Family Time

The holidays approach, the house is clean, strike up the oven and break out the leaf for the table. Lets all get together, eat, drink, nap, watch movies, play games, then rinse and repeat.  Blood relatives and extended families congregate for their specific cultural reasons and engage in…..

Why do we need an excuse? Call your family now and say hi, have not talked to someone since the last holiday? Call them, visit them, do not wait. Do it. Now. I am guilty of this just as you are. Life is not that simple anymore, but oh I wish it were. Just to be kicking back without having to worry what city will be next up for craziness.

My mom and dad turned 91 this year, our daughter 18, crazy stuff those two ends of the spectrum present us with. My parents have not seen Britt in a couple of years because life has given us a very windy road to maneuver, but this holiday season we are stressing the importance of resolving that fact.  Southbound again. Finally.

I had the pleasure of shooting a large family over the summer as they all congregated for a milestone celebration.  A mid morning session after I worked an overnight shift had my nerves activated but a few cups of coffee got me going and I was able to subtly feed off the love this family had for each other. And this makes it all worth it.

Going into this solo enforced the need I have for my “assistant” (Mee wife) but we were at opposite ends of the state almost. Nat is actually on her way to Maine to see one of her besties right now. Without me. Maine. The things we do for love.

The Primaries

And the kiddos

Combined as a group or separated as a unit, as long as we are together everything will always work out.

And at the end of the day, we can be assured that no matter how many challenges life brings us there is always time for silliness.

Right in the middle of all this I think, the battery pack for my main light decided to take a dump. We were nowhere near electricity. I always carry a couple of speedlites with me just in case of this scenario. I may have lost some power, but I did not lose the fun. Enjoy the approaching holiday season, and be prepared for all the excitement to come!

Thank for stopping by!

Phil

 

Summer? What Summer…

Summer? What Summer. If anyone knows where it went, please let me know. I do not think I have ever experienced those three months, you know, June, July, August, that seemed to go by so fast. The weather was a bit funky too as August had many windows open days, certainly great for the electric bill but I still missed the whole hanging outside thing. Since it was gone in the blink of an eye I will attribute this to one thing in particular, the full-time job had me losing my mind. One persons decision destroyed three months for me, funny thing is he is no longer employed by us. Go figure.  Now that things are settled down, I am slowly returning to a normal existence and recalling all the good things that happened.

My saving grace has always been the photo gig, my other life, really my real life.  The good part of the summer started off when I was hired to shoot a wedding, on the beach, in the middle of June and with a bunch of friends in attendance. This was a lifesaver for me emotionally and I was riding this high for the rest of the month. By choice I do not do many weddings. I love the smaller more intimate ones the best, the ones where people in attendance mean something to each other. Less than 100 people, preferably less than 50. Give me a private affair with 20 people and I am in my glory. Very chill with enough room and time to get everything accomplished. When it really comes down to it, we all have a close group of people we associate with, they all mean something to the heart and are not just a relative of a relatives friend. The past two weddings I did my wife manned the video for me. We did this as an experiment really to see how it would come out. So far so good and now I need to learn how to edit video.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing a few of the summer shoots, all people aside from one longish hike and some falls. Um, waterfalls.

Donna and Joe have been friends for years and they finally had the opportunity to become one. Both are paramedics, both are parents. Joe is also a Police Officer and Donna is even a grandma! So what it really comes down to, is both know how to relax and both know how to throw party. The weather was beautiful for their chosen day, slightly windy and a bit overcast so no one wilted in their fancy clothes.

I was pregaming with the bride, enjoyed some Mimosas and some killer window light

Did not see Joe till we were at the beach, of course he was doing his best to stay undercover

This next image..the look into each others eyes, no words need be spoken but they are actually both saying – I got you now…

A couple of after the ceremony Beach Portraits of course,

And one that we broke out into song while under the boardwalk

What do you think happened with this? Surprisingly, they both stayed clean

And at the end of the night when the adults were just getting started, the youngest ones were the smartest. Thank You Donna and Joe for kicking off the summer right!

Till the next time, Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

The Final Season Begins

The final year for this era of competitive dance is now firmly upon my family as we head towards our first big event of the year. The team is smaller this time around, the daughter is a senior now, and she will be jamming out on stage with her four teammates about six more times before all is said and done. She has already been accepted to the dance program at the college she will be heading to in September, now she just needs to try out for their dance team. Yeah, I am confused about that too. Academic vs Elective?

Spent my normal run up to our first event of the year in the studio with the girls during rehearsals, and sat in for the dress rehearsal as well. I am always envious of the flexibility they have and continually say I need to do something about my own. Goals….

Even though the team is smaller this year the excitement is no less, especially with Britt doing a solo number. If I may have a father moment, I am incredibly proud of my young love, she has grown in to such a kind, caring and beautiful young lady.  Her dancing is full of expression and filled with passion.

On the flip side of this equation is the youngest dancer on the team, appearing quiet and a bit reserved, she has a smile that lights up a room and puts in a great solo of her own.

We have a nice mix of dances this year, a gorgeous lyrical number, couple of hip hop routines, a jazz and a tap in addition to the two solos. The dances are very different from what the girls are used to. For the first time in, well forever, they have a couple of different instructors bringing in some new styles and influences. Loving the fresh approach and I think the girls dig it too.

I actually called Tap predictable the other day. Compared to the other styles, photographically it is. BUT, Tap is incredibly difficult and watching it is a thing I marvel at. Shooting it is easy is all I am saying, still bunches of fun isolating the feet.

 The girls were questioning the gold jackets, but they look really sharp and fit the dance to a tee. I also think they are going to look great on the stage.

The techy, geeky stuff: On camera flash for Laura stretching, bounced off the mirror, Britt has the direct  light with a Rogue Grid attached. No flash while they were doing their routines – 2.2, 1/500th, 2000. I was done shooting when I remembered I had my 85 with me.  So of course I had to break it out and see what I could get. From that, this happened. Hey, I am a portrait guy and no matter if I shoot dance or music, I am always looking at the face.  Jamie has been in front of the lens a bit.  She has such a great look.  I tried to distract her and get her laughing but she was totally engrossed in the theme of the number.

Best of luck girls!

Thanks For Stopping by!

Phil

Jumping clear and sharp at 1/160th of a second

Photographers always want something more, something different. I am no exception. My desires lie with obtaining a system that will afford me high-speed sync capabilities – to shoot with a shutter speed surpassing my current flash sync speed of 1/200. Simply put, if this number is breached, you will get a lovely black strip on the bottom of your frame. While that wish is nowhere near budget allowance, I am now wondering just how much I need them. I know there would be massive benefits for outdoor stuff, but inside? I am thinking probably not. Now me thinks I have known this for a while, but have refused to accept it. All comes down to confidence really.

I recently completed some promos for one of our local dance schools and after we were done with the formals we naturally had to get in some of that stuff that dancers do.  I will frequently shoot dancers in my little home studio, but with seven-foot ceilings we are very limited. This shoot was at the dance school so all cylinders were firing.  Five dancers of varying ages and skill levels and a couple of my trusty Alien Bee 800’s.

Geeky stuff: Cross light, One light had an 8″ reflector with a 30 degree grid, and the other had a white beauty dish with reflector plate.  f5.6, 1/160th, iso 100.  Cyber Sync triggers.

First Light with the grid,  Camera Right:

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And Both Lights:

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There is a slight ghosting of her left foot and shin, she is turning incredibly quick, but the rest of her is great. Maybe HSS could have prevented this, I think it is more because of the light hitting her than anything so it would not matter. I love the fact that her fingers are curled in and she is spotting her landing point.

It still cracks me that they look at themselves in the mirrors. Self critique at its finest. Digging the shadow on the wall.

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Tell ya what, I used to be flexible, but never could I do this. She is not even in maximum gumby mode, I think I was a hair off in my timing.

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So the moral of the story is, and I am sure we have all heard it before, use what is available to you instead of investing in more stuff. You may be surprised. What you have will probably work just fine.

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Yes, I still have desires for a B1. Thanks for stopping by!!

Phil